Yesterday we had our first session with our Multnomah County Early Intervention. The teacher assigned to Simon came over to our house as he will every Monday for the school year. Simon rejoiced at having a new adult give him all his attention, and they got right into playing the Cranium baseball game we have. The game has little base runner pieces to move across the bases. Mark, the teacher, got familiar with how Simon operates the game, then made the base runner “talk.”
Simon yelled at him and threw himself on the floor. Simon doesn’t really pretend, but I had no idea he’d react that way to someone else doing it. Mark tried a few more times to get Simon to accept the players chatting, and later a train. He asked Simon if it was okay for him to pretend, and Simon replied with a very firm no.
I’ve noticed before that Simon doesn’t like us to make his animals or other things talk, but it didn’t really register how much it bothers him. We can make his kitty meow as long as we have breath, but it does not speak. Even when we talk to real animals, like the dogs at home, Simon usually says, “dogs don’t talk,” or “dogs don’t answer.”
It makes me wonder what specifically it is about pretending that bothers him. I assume it’s that it seems ‘wrong’ to him, that game pieces are just pieces, that trains only repeat what has happened in a book or a tv show, and blocks certainly cannot drive like cars. This is not the way Simon knows the world to function, and for it to be suggested must be scary or unnerving in some way.
I also wonder if it’s something he can learn, or if he’ll always act this way, and how it will affect him. Will his lack of pretend play change how he learns, or how much he can learn? Will have a long term impact on his ability to form relationships, or solve problems. Or will it simply mean that Simon will always name his kitties Kitty and his engines Engine?